On 10 July 2018 the Senate unanimously approved two bills making provision for those accused of the crash of flight MH17 to stand trial in the Netherlands. The bills were passed with the support of every party in the Senate. The legislation implements the agreement on international legal cooperation concluded by the Netherlands and Ukraine in July 2017.
The agreement was needed to implement the decision taken by the countries that comprise the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) – Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Ukraine and the Netherlands – to conduct any prosecution and trial in the Netherlands in accordance with Dutch law. As yet, no one has been charged by the Public Prosecution Service.
The new legislation contains provisions that are specific to this unique situation. For example, given the international nature of the proceedings, the court is authorised to allow parts of the proceedings to be conducted in English to enable the next of kin to exercise their right to speak at the trial. In addition, an extremely rare exception will be made to the right of accused persons to be physically present in the courtroom. The legislation will allow the use of video conferencing technology, making it possible for defendants to participate in the proceedings from another country.